Notebook: June 2022

News briefs from across the industry and beyond. This month’s articles include:

  • First Middle Ear Ultrasound on a Cat
  • 5 Strategies for Building Employee Loyalty
  • CAPC Releases 2022 Pet Parasite Forecasts

and more!

NAVTA Report Urges “Veterinary Technician” Title Protection

A new report by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) states, “The title of ‘veterinary technician’ is used inconsistently and . . . often incorrectly, and suffers from a lack of clarity and understanding, both within the veterinary world and among consumers.”

In fact, the report reveals, only 10 states have a clear definition of the title “veterinary technician” and restrict the use of that title to those who have formal credentials in that state.

Ashli R. Selke, NAVTA president, comments that NAVTA data indicate that title protection and pay are among the top concerns of veterinary technicians, many of whom think improved title protection will lead to better pay. “Protecting the title of ‘veterinary technician’ is the right thing to do from a legal perspective, helps the consumer better understand who they are working with, and gives the title value,” Selke said. “That, in turn, enhances the profession and creates an incentive for individuals to go to school and earn the right to use that title.”

The NAVTA report addresses the nationwide inconsistencies in titling and credentialing veterinary technicians with detailed recommendations for action by legislatures and regulatory agencies, academic institutions, veterinary medical and technician associations, veterinary practices, and others.


Hospital Performs First Middle Ear Ultrasound on Cat

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Walnut was rescued and adopted as a feral kitten by Brittany Ray, who early on felt a lump behind one of Walnut’s ears. A veterinarian discovered a bilateral ear infection. The infected right ear recovered, the cyst resolved with antibiotics, but Walter had frequent recurrent infections in his left ear.

After two years of consultations with specialists and more antibiotics, Walnut’s ear infections persisted. Finally, Ray brought him to Foster Hospital for Small Animals at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

Ramon Almela, PhD, DVM, DECVD, DEBVS; Tim Chan, BVMS; and the rest of the dermatology team immediately noticed Walnut scratching, shaking, and tilting his head—signs of chronic ear issues that indicated inner ear involvement. Walnut’s ear was filled with fluid, so a computed tomography (CT) scan could not get a clear view of the canal and eardrum.

“Another option is an ultrasound. It doesn’t require general anesthesia and it’s noninvasive, less expensive, and faster,” Almela said. However, the procedure is not widely available because very few radiologists are trained to perform ultrasounds on cats’ middle ears.

“We were lucky,” Almela continued. “Foster Hospital radiologist Agustina Anson Fernandez, DVM, PhD, DECVDI, trained for this type of ultrasound at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, [Austria]. . . . [S]he agreed to perform the procedure on Walnut.”

Walnut was the first cat at Foster Hospital to have an ultrasound of both ears. Dr. Almela diagnosed him with an infection of the middle ear that spread to the inner ear. He was treated with ear drops, a supplemental wash, and two antibiotics. The new treatments showed immediate results. Walnut is now doing fine.

Almela now plans to conduct research about performing ultrasounds in lieu of CT scans on cats in similar situations.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“We especially need imagination in science. Question everything.”

­—Maria Mitchell (1818–1889), astronomer, first American scientist to discover a comet, first female professor of astronomy 


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US Issues “Shields Up” Alert for Cyber Security Awareness

The nation’s cyber defense agency, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), wants every US organization, large and small, to “adopt a heightened posture” against cyberattacks in 2022. CISA recommends the following steps.

To protect against a cyberattack on your business network:

  • Require additional authentication besides a password to access your network. This authentication might be a confirmation text message or email, a code from an authentication app, or a fingerprint or face ID.
  • Ensure that your business’s software is up to date. You can check CISA’s website, cisa.gov/known-exploitedvulnerabilities-catalog, for recommended updates to make your network less vulnerable.
  • Confirm that your organization’s entire network is protected by antivirus/antimalware software and that these tools are fully updated.
  • If you use cloud services, visit CISA’s webpage to see the recommendations for protecting cloud services against attack.
  • Sign up for CISA’s free cyber hygiene services, including vulnerability scanning, to help reduce exposure to threats.

To ensure a rapid response to a cyberattack and reduce its effects:

  • Designate a crisis-response team with main points of contact for a suspected cybersecurity incident and roles/responsibilities within the organization (such as technology, communications, legal, and business continuity).
  • Assure availability of key personnel and identify means to provide surge support for responding to an incident.
  • Conduct a tabletop exercise to ensure that all participants understand their roles during an incident.
  • Test backup procedures to ensure that critical data can be rapidly restored if the organization is impacted by ransomware or a destructive cyberattack; ensure that backups are isolated from network connections.
  • CISA also recommends organizations visit stopransomware.gov, a centralized government webpage providing ransomware resources and alerts.

4 steps individuals can take

CISA’s “Shields Up” Alert includes the following four actions that will keep individuals cyber safe.

  • Set up multifactor authentication on your accounts, such as email, social media, online shopping, financial services, gaming, and entertainment services. This can make you 99% less likely to get hacked. 
  • Turn on automatic updates. Hackers exploit flaws that updates often fix. Set up automatic updates for all devices, applications, and operating systems.
  • Think before you click. More than 90% of successful cyberattacks start with a phishing email that tricks you into revealing sensitive information and can install malware on your computer. If it’s a link you don’t recognize—do not click.
  • Use strong passwords and ideally a password manager to generate and store unique passwords. 

5 Strategies for Building Employee Loyalty

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 4 million US workers quit their jobs each month in 2021 and the total number of worker resignations for that year is a record 47.8 million. Writing in the “All Things Work” newsletter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Novid Parsi cites these figures to bolster his argument that to stem the flow of workers leaving their jobs, employers need to build employee loyalty. The following are some of his suggestions for doing just that.

  1. Provide employees with meaningful work and a sense of purpose.

    Employee loyalty is about “being part of a team where you provide meaningful service that enriches the lives of others,” said Fred Reichheldof, founder of management consultancy Bain & Co.’s loyalty practice.

  2. Ask employees what they need. Listen to their answers.

    Pardi suggests employers establish “a regular process for identifying their people’s needs and acting on them.” Part of IT consulting company CGI’s annual assessment of employee satisfaction is a 14-question survey that helps identify ways that satisfaction can be improved.

  3. Introduce or improve work flexibility.

    “People have begun to realize that flexible work is not just a benefit,” said Kate Bravery, partner and global practices leader for Mercer, a management and consulting firm. “It’s a new operating model.”

    Mercer’s survey found that 32% of employees cited flexibility as a major motivation to stay with an employer. For some having more control over their work location and hours was more important than a pay raise.

  4. Consider employees’ career goals.

    According to Bravery, employees who don’t see long-term futures for themselves may leave a job, even if they are happy at work.

  5. Commit to paying people well.

    CGI has found that an effective loyalty-building strategy is “a sustained commitment to paying people well.”

The First IDEXX-Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine Scholars Selected

The IDEXX Foundation and Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine (TUCVM) have officially announced the three inaugural recipients of the IDEXX-TUCVM scholarship, one of the first dedicated programs aimed at increasing racial diversity in veterinary medicine. According to 2019 US Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, of the more than 104,000 veterinarians in the nation, more than 90% are White and less than 10% are people of color.

TUCVM, a historically Black college or university (HBCU), has increased access to veterinary medical education, educating 70% of African American veterinarians in the United States.

The multiyear initiative with the IDEXX Foundation includes nine full scholarships, mental health support for veterinary students, emergency funding for students in need, and monies for important capital improvements at the TUCVM facilities.

Introducing the Scholars

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Brittany Howard Justin Hodrick Sydney Johnson 

Brittany Howard is originally from Birmingham, Alabama. Her career aspirations include owning a chain of veterinarian-related businesses including private practices, specialty practices, shelters, pet stores, and more.

Justin Hodrick is interested in small animal orthopedic surgery and large animal theriogenology. He hopes to open a practice in Houston, Texas, his hometown.

Sydney Johnson is from Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Her current interests include veterinary dentistry, orthopedic surgery, sports medicine, and rehabilitation.

“Inspired by these scholars’ stories and ambitions, we are confident that they will have an immensely positive impact on veterinary medicine for decades to come,” said Jay Mazelsky, IDEXX president and chief executive officer.


Companion Animal Parasite Council Releases 2022 Pet Parasite Forecasts

The nonprofit Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) has released its 2022 Pet Parasites Forecasts. CAPC, recognized as the global expert in forecasting the vector-borne diseases of companion animals in the US, warns that in 2022 much of the country faces higher-than-average risks from vector-borne diseases—heartworm, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis. Reasons for the increased risks include rehoming of pets, changes in “distribution and prevalence” of vectors (such as mosquitos and ticks), spread of wildlife into populated areas, climate change, and changes in wildlife habitats.

CAPC advises veterinarians and pet owners that “annual testing and year-round use of preventive products remains the best means of providing comprehensive internal and external parasite control.” In addition, “a vaccination for Lyme disease should always be considered for pets in high-risk areas.”

Trends created the tables below to show CAPC’s 2022 Forecasts for the geographic risks of two vector-borne diseases, heartworm and Lyme disease. Maps, more details, and other diseases can be found online at capcvet.org/articles/2022-forecasts/

CAPC 2022 Heartworm Forecast*

*For detailed information and maps, see the complete CAPC 2022 Pet Parasite Forecast.

Higher-than-Average Heartworm Risk

Increased Heartworm Risk

Little Change in Heartworm Risk

  • Along Mississippi River
  • Southern Midwest
  • Atlantic Coast
  • Mid-Atlantic and pushing into dense population areas of Northeast
  • New Mexico and southern Arizona
  • Parts of Colorado and Kansas
  • Northern Great Plains
  • Northern California
  • Idaho
  • Eastern Montana
  • Central and southern Florida
  • Upper Midwest
  • Northeast

In its 2022 Forecast, CAPC does not identify any areas of the country that can expect “lower-than-average prevalence” of heartworm.

CAPC 2022 Lyme Disease Forecast*

*For detailed information and maps, see the complete CAPC 2022 Pet Parasite Forecast.

High-Risk Hot Spots” for Lyme Disease

High Risk of Lyme Disease

Increased Risk of Lyme Disease

  • Northern and western lower Michigan
  • Southern and northeastern Ohio
  • Northeast
  • Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the upper peninsula of Michigan
  • North Dakota
  • Northeastern South Dakota
  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • Eastern Kentucky
  • Eastern Kentucky
  • Northeastern Tennessee
  • Western Michigan
  • Ohio
  • Carolinas
  • Tennessee

In its 2022 Forecast, CAPC states, “The geographic prevalence of Lyme disease continues to expand southward and westward.”

Mystery Solved at Texas A&M’s Small Animal Teaching Hospital

GettyImages-802317706.jpgHenry, a seven-year-old schnauzer mix, arrived at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVMBS) Small Animal Teaching Hospital (SATH) with a mysterious condition that baffled his local veterinarians and specialists.

At SATH, Henry’s care team set out to discover the cause of the fluid collecting in his abdomen (ascites). The hospital’s new interventional radiology service, established in 2021, put problem-solving veterinary specialists on the case—Genna Atiee, DVM, clinical assistant professor, and second-year internal medicine residents Jeremy Evans and Michael Hung.

“When I met Henry, I fell in love with him,” Atiee said. “His case felt like a roller coaster—highs and lows throughout.”

When more tests failed to discover the problem, veterinary cardiologists Ashley Saunders, DVM, DACVIM, and Sonya Wesselowski, DVM, DACVIM, took a more detailed look at Henry’s heart and vessels in the hospital’s catheterization lab.

They discovered that Henry’s inferior/caudal vena cava was compressed, causing fluid to collect in his abdomen. The vein was so narrow that blood was building up in Henry’s abdominal organs. Relieving the vein compression was vital for Henry’s survival.

Saunders and Wesselowski decided to try using a metal stent spanning from the superior/cranial vena cava, through the heart, and out the inferior vena cava to widen the vein and improve blood flow.

While much of the procedure could be planned in advance, some decisions had to wait until the operation was in progress. “His was a complex case because of the location of his problem,” Saunders said. “We . . . made decisions about the best thing to do based on the information we had.”

Thanks to the team assembled for Henry’s procedure, the stent was successfully deployed and relieved the ascites. Several months later, Henry is active and healthy, with no signs of the ascites returning.

“I was really proud of the team who was in the catheterization lab making intraoperation decisions,” Atiee said. “It was a very challenging procedure, but . . . [w]e truly worked as a team with the common goal of helping this dog.”

 

Photo credits: GlobalP/collection via Getty Images; Hilch via Shutterstock; Branimir76/iStock via Getty Images

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